Greetings to all! My name is Sean, and welcome to my Senior Project blog!
For the past decade of my life, I’ve encountered the word cancer at least once a week whether that be in a Netflix documentary, a YouTube video, television advertisement, or local conversation. However, I assume that for many of us, cancer is simply a word that forebodes death. When you hear the phrases let’s fight cancer today or breast cancer awareness month, how many of us really understand cancer from a medical and biological standpoint? Okay … okay, perhaps I’m downplaying it a little. Let’s say there are those of you who understand that cancer is basically the uncontrollable division of cells. For such individuals, would you ever believe me if I said that the fight towards eliminating cancer involves microbes? Especially during a pandemic, I assume many of us view microbes with an aura of disgust. Indeed, microbes can be pathogenic, but for my Senior Project, I will be researching how microbes can aid the fight against cancer. Specifically, I will explore how tumor suppressor proteins (proteins that halt cell division) can be mass produced using E. coli bacteria to eventually be harvested for medicinal use.
This week, I have already begun my internship with Dr. Xiaoping Yang at Protein One LLC. While this week consisted of a mere introduction to the lab and overall facilities, I will be isolating small plasmid DNA from bacteria through a procedure called Plasmid Mini-Prep next week in the lab. At home, I am currently researching the p53 tumor suppressor protein and the role it plays in cancer development. In the coming weeks, I hope to produce the p53 protein using E. coli in the lab. In the meantime, complementing my research question, I will also specifically be studying biological proteins in-depth through an online course offered by Rice University, exploring topics like protein structure, function, characterization, and purification. I want to understand proteins thoroughly in order to uncover the significant role certain proteins play in the onset development of cancer.